LinkedIn has become a powerhouse platform for lead generation.
LinkedIn Groups, especially, can be a boon for businesses eager to facilitate more meaningful interactions between industry peers and potential customers. By assembling a mini faction of like-minded people who care about a specific topic, you create a priceless opportunity to demonstrate expertise, gather consumer (or competitor) feedback and establish genuine relationships. It’s also an incredible (and free) marketing opportunity.
Here are some best practices on how to optimize marketing opportunities via LinkedIn Groups.
Using LinkedIn Groups
Start by joining groups that are relevant to your product, services or industry. Think about common challenges your typical customer faces, and determine where they might go to get information to solve them. This should help guide your search.
There are several ways to find groups. First, you can use the group search tool in LinkedIn. Navigate to the right-hand side of the screen, select “Work,” and then select “Groups.”
Here, you’ll find a list of all your current Groups. To find new Groups, select “Search other trusted communities that share and support your goals.” LinkedIn will provide Groups you might be interested in based on your profile information, job title or other Group affiliation.
If you’re still not finding what you are looking for, enter a specific keyword into the search bar at the top, and select “Groups” to find more.
You can also view Groups that your competitors or customers already frequent. This can help you identify additional qualities and keywords to expand your search.
After finding a LinkedIn Group that aligns with your customer persona and marketing objectives, review the rules carefully. Most Groups have clear specifications for what you can and can’t do within a group. Many, for instance, have strict “no selling” guidelines to discourage personal promotions. Getting banned from an industry Group will do you no marketing favors.
All LinkedIn groups are now private, so you’ll have to request access before you can join. Select “Ask to Join,” and hopefully the admins will approve you in a timely fashion.
Once you’ve selected several relevant groups, it’s time to start networking. Here’s how to make the most of your LinkedIn Groups interactions:
1. Prioritize polished, well-crafted messaging. The key to capturing your audience’s attention is to use compelling, concise and relevant copy in your posts. This is probably the first impression Group members will have of you, so don’t make sloppy, lazy mistakes.
2. Be educational, and don’t spam. If you try to sneak in salesy content or personal promos, you’ll quickly lose credibility—and you might get banned. Share information that your fellow members will find helpful, relevant, intriguing and useful.
3. Foster genuine engagement with other members. It’s not enough just to post content and expect sales to skyrocket. Consistently interact with members by answering questions, asking questions and sparking meaningful conversations.
4. Don’t annoy your audience. Do not copy and paste the same message throughout multiple Groups. If you’re in several Groups focused on a similar topic of interest, chances are others are as well. This lazy habit can quickly dissolve any trust or goodwill you’ve built.
5. Analyze results, and pivot accordingly. Always measure and monitor what’s working and what’s not—and then modify your approach to get the best results. For example, if you’re getting fruitful engagement from one Group in particular, allocate more time toward that one and less toward another that might not be as responsive.
A version of this post first appeared on the SmartBug Media blog.